Caney Notables

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The community was home to several notable people. Col. S. M. Porter was an early-day pioneer who become one of southeast Kansas’ and northeast Oklahoma’s foremost industrialists. He was responsible for bringing the railroads to the Caney area and for creating industrial development.

George H. Wark, Porter’s son-in-law, was a longtime Caney attorney who helped muster the first units of the Kansas Army National Guard. He mustered Company D in Caney in 1916 and led the troops to Europe in World War I. He retired in 1943 as a brigadier general.

Kenneth McFarland was a Caney native who become one of the nation’s foremost orators and after-dinner speakers. McFarland was an educator by occupation but spent his later years as a nationwide lecturer on positive thinking.

Eva Jessye, a native of Coffeyville, spent her summers at a relative’s home in the Caney area. She later became nationally-recognized choral artist, serving as music director of the original Porgy and Bess and the pioneering film Hallelujah. She was regarded as the female dean of African-American music in the United States.

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